Sunday, December 31, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 01/01/2018

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Hooray for the end of 2017! Unfortunately, I came down with a simple head cold so I didn't quite get as much reading done as I expected to but I am almost done with Braving the Wilderness and All's Faire In Middle School. 
Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I actually got some great momentum going last week on my novel revisions but that means I didn't get as much reading done as I had hoped...so my to-read this week is still: Braving the Wilderness, All's Faire in Middle School, One Last Word, and Long Way Down. I'm loving each of them! Happy 2018!!!


This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/25/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Ohmigosh! With Christmas, I totally forgot to get this post up in time! I read Shannon Hale's Real Friends and started reading Victoria Jamieson's All's Faire in Middle School. We're still listening to Fish in a Tree and I've read a little more of Braving the Wilderness.

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Now that break is finally here (yay!) I'm planning to finish up Braving the Wilderness, All's Faire in Middle School, One Last Word, and Long Way Down. Hooray for time to read! It's really cold in my little corner of the world so we're snuggled up trying to stay warm. Happy reading wherever you are!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

For the Love of Mentor Texts - Jennifer Sniadecki

Welcome to another guest post in my series For The Love of Mentor Texts here at Teach Mentor Texts. I love to talk about the power of mentor texts to impact our writing but I'm thrilled to have friends share how they use mentor texts for a fresh perspective. Today I'm excited to share thoughts from Jennifer Sniadecki about how she uses mentor texts to share organization structures with students.

Would you like to write a guest post for For The Love of Mentor Texts? Just let me know by filling out this simple form

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Using Mentors Texts to Teach Organization Structures
by Jennifer Sniadecki

I use mentor texts for reading and writing every day in one way or another. As I pondered the purposes of mentor texts in my classroom and personal life, I came to the realization that I needed to categorize my reasons for use. This post attempts to chronicle my favorite mentor texts in terms of teaching (and using) organization and text structures.


ABC/Lists
There are so many ABC books on the market! One of my favorites for viewing and providing information on a topic is Gone Wild: An Endangered Alphabet by David McLimans (2006).




Sequencing
Preventing a writer from drafting “and then,...and then,...” is tough, especially when that writer is drafting a wonderful story with gusto! Let 'em go! When it comes time to revise, I suggest looking at the story again to insert some purposeful organization into the piece. Using Smoky Night by Eve Bunting (1994), I have guided students to show their story with a tight beginning, middle, and end. This book opens with a fabulous lead (another reason to use this story) and guides the reader through the scary experiences of a night when a fire engulfs an apartment building. From beginning to end, this book is a fantastic example of story structure in a time-order sequence.




How-To/Instructions
Students love to tell how to do something that they know well how to do! I've had many a conference where the student excitedly tells me directions: “First, and...and...and...then...then you're done!”
Getting these students to stop the “and” train is the reason I use books like Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin (2012) and How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan (2014). There are so many ways to tell others what you know already. These two books give writers some good ideas as mentor texts.




Compare/Contrast (Noting Similarities and Differences)
Again, this category provides a plethora of titles to use as mentors for readers and writers. Since compare/contrast consistently shows up in the teaching standards of each state, I consistently keep this book handy: John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith. Now Lane Smith writes hilarious texts (another reason to use this), but he also describes these four famous-for-history men (another reason – I use these books in many ways across the curriculum) in a way that readers can keep track of each distinct personality.



Letters/Notes/Diaries
Sometimes students are looking for another way to write, other than paragraphs or long passages. They want to learn something different from the norm, and they are happy for me to suggest something that they (sort of) know already – writing notes! (Well, notes, letters, diaries, etc.) The ol' reliable mentor text for letter writing is Doreen Cronin's Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (2010). The animals and Farmer Brown fight it out. The animals want luxuries to keep them happy on the farm, and Farmer Brown wants eggs and milk. (I love the vocabulary word, “ultimatum,” introduced here, by the “neutral party” duck, too.) If you want to use something new-to-market, I suggest Dear Dragon by Josh Funk (2016). This is a beautiful story of two pen pals, on assignment from their teachers, who finally get to meet at the end of the book. (Sequence order backup – writing through a school year) Another reason I love Dear Dragon is that is a practical mentor text for Parallel Structure, which is more difficult for writers, and I used for older elementary/middle school students.




Parallel Structure
Parallel structures means that different characters in a book are carrying out similar patterns in their plots, all in one text. This is more difficult to teach, but using Dear Dragon helped me because the readers can clearly find the similar activities between the boy and the young dragon. (Plus, it's funny – another reason!) My other go-to text for parallel structure is Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie (1990). This oldie-but-goodie story of a cat living two separate lives is adorable for all ages.




Flashback
One of the curriculum standards for middle/high school literature surrounds the use of flashbacks in stories. Every year I break out Langston's Train Ride by Robert Burleigh to introduce this text structure. Langston had published his first book of poems and was headed to a party in Harlem to celebrate with his friends. As his shoes click along the sidewalk, he remembers a train ride, his aunt's apple dumplings, the rivers...Ah! No spoilers here! You'll have to read it yourself and add it to your mentor text collection.




I use these texts over and over for many reasons in the reading and writing classroom, and in my own writing life. In this post I have described how I use mentor texts for text organization purposes. Mentor texts are amazing! They are “best friends” (as Lester Laminack says) – and I hope you find your own ways to use these amazing titles in your own classrooms and lives.

Thanks to Jennifer Sniadecki for stopping by to share her love of mentor texts!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/17/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week, I was still listening to Bad Feminist and we read more of Knucklehead. We also started Fish In a Tree and it's been good to listen and discuss with my kids.  I also started reading One Last Word by Nikki Grimes and I'm so amazed by how she wrote the poems with a connection to poets of the Harlem Renaissance. She combines her work with theirs...it's fascinating.

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm hoping to finish Bad Feminist this week and get back to Braving the Wilderness. I'm hoping to read more of One Last Word and Fish in a Tree.

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

For the Love of Mentor Texts - Teddy Kuhn



Welcome to another guest post in my series For The Love of Mentor Texts here at Teach Mentor Texts. I love to talk about the power of mentor texts to impact our writing but I'm thrilled to have friends share how they use mentor texts for a fresh perspective. Today I'm excited to welcome Teddy Kuhn to to share how she uses cartoons to inspire students to write.

Would you like to write a guest post for For The Love of Mentor Texts? Just let me know by filling out this simple form

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Elaborating with Cartoons as Mentor Texts

Students can give opinions all day long, usually very strong and sometimes logical opinions.  The point is opinions are natural for humans, we grow up being asked; what’s your favorite? What’s the best? Was that scary? Funny?  So why is it in argumentative essays student writing often feels flat and bland?  If you’re like me, you’ve read thousands of essays where students’ arguments are simple repetitions of an opinion.   And if you’re like me, you write on the paper, “Why?” and “What does this show?” and “Tell me more about this.”


Finally, you get to the end of the stack and instead of being relieved they’re all graded, you’re frustrated because no matter how many times deepening questions have been written, or written “TELL ME MORE”, students just don’t “TELL ME MORE”.  So it finally dawned on me (It took a while) that maybe students don’t know HOW to tell me more or what could be said.  It was time to start really thinking about what elaboration is and what it does because it is more than just more.  


In the early days I began with comic strips straight from the funny pages of the newspaper.  I gave kids a copy, let them read, listen to some giggles and asked “Is this funny?”


We practiced this a lot, with a lot of cartoons, it’s quick and students like it.  Best of all it did help with their writing.  However, with Common Core the standards for argumentative writing became more rigorous and more defined than they previously had.  I needed to step my strategy up, because even though it helped students see what elaboration looks like, it didn’t help them understand what it truly does.  


That’s when George Hillock, Jr’s book Teaching Argument Writing truly saved the day, week, unit, all of it.  This is really a remarkable book! It has become one of my staple professional development books.  Hillocks helped me really understand the components of argument writing and how they work together.  The book helped solidify what I knew, taught me the new language of CCSS and gave me the tools to actually teach it.  LOVE, LOVE this book, find a copy!


Anyways, Hillocks suggests using crime scene cartoons! (Is there anything more satisfying than finding out you were on the right track??) I use Lawrence Treat’s Crime and Puzzlement, each cartoon in this book comes with a brief story that includes more clues.  Share it with students and simply ask, “What happened? Was this an accident?” As students begin developing theories guide them to the picture and ask, “How can you tell?” This time when students are asked for more, I was really asking for a comparison. Students are really answering, “How does this compare to what you know about the world?”


Suddenly their answers will include ideas about how this evidence shows it couldn’t have been an accident because it would be impossible to occur naturally.  And, almost like magic, students are answering, “why?” and “telling me more” using logic, warrants and reasoning, even if they don’t know it yet!  I’ll later use these cartoons and conversations to define the key elements of argument writing.  Students are more likely to transfer this elaboration when they know exactly what that element is, does and sounds like.




Unfortunately, if you do teach younger students these cartoons aren’t appropriate.  I recommend the classic Goofus and Galant cartoons. Ask students which character is doing the right thing and which is doing the wrong.  Then, to encourage elaboration and reasoning, ask students, “How do you know that’s the right thing to do?” Students’ answers will include their experiences and values in comparison with the characters, so even at a young age the elaboration and reasoning muscles are being strengthened!


I recently discovered Zen Pencils and love how they are taking inspirational or thought-provoking quotes and turning them into cartoons. It really brings them to life and helps give readers another lens to consider as they discuss. If you aren't familiar with this site, I definitely recommend it as well.


A big thank you to Teddy for taking the time to share her love of mentor texts!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/11/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I'm still listening to Bad Feminist and it's so so so good. We've been reading Jon Scieszka's Knucklehead as a family and we crack up every night. It's so funny. 

Reviewed Last Week:
I was on a podcast!
Thanks to Renee Powers for interviewing me for her Wild Cozy Truth podcast.
I also blogged about the The Danger of a White Story over at Story Exploratory.
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'll be listening to Bad Feminist and possibly diving into a reread of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. It always puts me into the holiday spirit!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

For The Love of Mentor Texts - Beth Sanderson


Welcome to another guest post in my series For The Love of Mentor Texts here at Teach Mentor Texts. I love to talk about the power of mentor texts to impact our writing but I'm thrilled to have friends share how they use mentor texts for a fresh perspective. Today I'm excited to welcome Beth Sanderson to share how she finds and organizes mentor texts.

Would you like to write a guest post for For The Love of Mentor Texts? Just let me know by filling out this simple form

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Finding and Organizing Great Mentor Texts


Summer is a time to relax, recharge and read. But teachers never really take the summer off. Twitter and Facebook are filled with posts by teachers sharing a “must read” book or a noteworthy article. If you are like me, you clip articles and save posts, thrilled to add to your classroom mentor text collection.


When September rolls around, however, who has the time to sift through the list of arbitrary articles clipped or Facebook posts saved?


Taking a little time during the summer to consider the organization of your mentor texts will yield a system that puts texts at your fingertips when you need them.


Here are some ideas (along with a few good mentor texts) for organizing:


1. Select one or two locations as a repository for written mentor texts. The single most effective step I have taken to make mentor texts easier to find is selecting two platforms to house my texts. Evernote, a digital organization tool, and Google folders have simplified my teaching world.


Evernote (or its kin Microsoft OneNote) allows you to create digital notebooks filled with individual notes. Evernote is accessible from any device and once installed, is quick to open from anywhere. When you open my mentor text notebook, you will find lists of articles, stories or links organized by genre and/or intended use. Evernote allows you to “clip” or save PDFs from the web into any notebook. Therefore, if I find a digital article I want to save, I immediately file it in the correct notebook.


For example, right now I am revisiting the joy of the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and Textbook. Ordinary Life is a unique memoir written in encyclopedia form and Textbook is her thinking organized into textbook chapters. Both books are written for adults but there are plenty of pages appropriate for the classroom. Her work offers students a whole new world of creative writing. Rosenthal’s website www.whoisamy.com has a complete PDF of Ordinary Life uploaded! In Evernote, I have added pages of the text to several genre notes so I remember the text can be used in more than one way.


If you use Google folders, consider creating mentor text folders by teaching unit or genre to share with your teaching team and spread the wealth.

2. Employ apps that ease article “clipping”. Technology has made saving mentor texts much easier. In addition to clipping articles through Evernote, I use the app Pocket. Pocket is found in the app store or at https://getpocket.com. Pocket allows you to grab articles, videos, images, charts and more from any site. Opening my saved Pocket folder always sparks a note of creativity as I scroll through the gems I may have clipped on the fly while on Twitter or a news site.




In Pocket, you can add tags to saved items, star favorites or sort by type of media (article, video or image). One step worth taking is copying the links for mentor texts and adding them to a word or Google document listed by genre or lesson plan. Otherwise, Pocket will serve as a creative treasure chest like your grandparent’s attic.


3. Make a YouTube channel for videos. Inspiring videos or ads can be the perfect addition to a class lesson. Rather than just writing down a URL or inserting the video in a power point, consider creating a YouTube channel. I can’t believe how long it took me to take this step but now I have nicely organized playlists on my channel built to match my classroom use. The channel can be private or public. When you find a video you want to save, simply hit the plus sign (+) when you are logged in and YouTube allows you to create or select a playlist for the addition.


Some of my favorite videos are:


4.  Have a set of folders, by genre, for hard copies of articles.  I read several physical newspapers and magazines weekly. Reading physical papers allows one to savor stories and find treasure. Additionally, I often clip infographs and small items that I would miss scanning The New York Times online. One recent gem was the cover story in the NYT Review of Books about poetry revision that included edited pages by poets such as Billy Collins.




However, a pile of clipped articles can quickly become a mess. Consider creating a set of folders by genre to house the clips. Then, when you need a piece, finding just the right article is a snap.


5. When creating units or lesson plans, build a playlist of mentor texts on one page. To make lesson plans as flexible and responsive as possible, I like to have a number of mentor texts to personalize the learning experience and help each student find a way into a skill or topic. During lesson planning, consider creating a Word or Google document with your objective and a long list of links to videos, articles, books or stories to serve as mentors for students. Finally, place the “playlist” document in the appropriate Evernote or Google Drive folder for easy access in future units.


As summer winds down, I am reading away. Having a store of strong, well-organized mentor texts has changed my teaching. I can’t wait to see what I find!

Beth Sanderson is an 8th grade English teacher and instructional leader at Swanson Middle School in Arlington, Virginia. When not teaching, Beth goes everywhere with a book in her hand. Her classroom has been featured in The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, the Book Club for Kids podcast and NEA Today. Find her on Twitter at @bbsand.

A big thank you to Beth for taking the time to share her love of mentor texts!